The trading deadline is upon us, and the Angels have once again built up a secure lead in the AL West. The A’s have definitely been stronger than the 2008 team that fell well-short, and the Angels have been weaker than their 100-win club. But the Angels have a seven game lead over the second-place Athletics, a lead that the objective and intelligent GM Billy Beane understands isn’t likely to made up in only two months. Not when the A’s are solid but unspectacular. And not when the odds are against Beane’s squad, something Beane values highly.
But as we guessed, the Angels offense has struggled this season. They didn’t address their OBP issues, and they didn’t address their power issues. They continue to win with pitching, and a little defense here and there. But the team failed to address the offense as much as they probably should. And in a fairly weak division, their deficiencies will once again not be exposed until the postseason.
Over near the bay, The A’s are actively shopping Matt Holliday, a scenario that everyone knew would happen if the A’s did not have a realistic shot at postseason play when the deadline creeped up. Holliday of course, is a free agent at the end of the year. And Beane is very unlikely to extend the left fielders contract, since Beane just doesn’t do that very often. Not for that kind of money anyway.
Holliday struggled, relative to his past performance for the first few months of the season, adjusting to unfamiliar pitching, and a league widely known to have more talent. But during the months of June and July, Holliday has been tearing the cover off the ball to the tune of .300/.370/.520. And he seems to be getting even better, as unfamiliar pitchers are now looking like “tee’s”.
So Billy places a phone call, dialed to none other than Angels General Manager Tony Reagins. Billy asks for a few young, promising player in exchange for two months of Matt Holliday. And Reagins cannot let the opportunity pass…
What if Beane entertains the idea of compromising a little of the Angels future, at the expense of giving Anaheim a better shot at winning a ring?
What does Beane care if the Angles win anyway. At this point, Beane would play the odds, and the odds involved the A’s being a longshot to make the playoffs. If he can take a few players from a division rival, in making a move he would mak–almost definitely, then the better.
I know that teams seem skeptical to make blockbuster trades within the division, and it is somewhat understandeable. But Matt Holliday, if this scenario does in fact occur, would be one of the best available options. The Angels did not hesitate to trade for Teixeira last season, and really didn’t solve their offensive issues during the past offseason. Abreu is a solid player, and there is hope for Brandon Wood and Howie Kendrick to actually start performing well, consistently. But they still have a few holes.
Billy Beane has to take the best package, regardless of which division it comes from. But it would be genius if he grabbed a few good Angels players well doing something that would need to be done anyway.
The Angels may actually keep Holliday, extending him beyond the two months. And that would of course lessen the blow in Anaheim. But once Holliday hits free agency, he is really anyone’s game. So maybe having played with the Angels, and experiencing the postseason makes Matt a little more partial to returning with the organization. But more likely is that Holliday weighs all his options, and goes to the club who wants him most.